So, You Want To Be A Runner
HOW TO GET UP, GET MOVING, AND GO AFTER YOUR GOALS
By Remy Sisk | Photos by Danny Alexander
Dr. Ryan Modlinski first started running in medical school as it was one of the only forms of exercise that easily fit with his busy schedule. He quickly began to relish the mental benefits of running – being able to let stress from school go and clearing his mind of all the things he had to do. But he also, of course, saw the physical benefits of running and exercising regularly. On days when he ran, he had more energy, was less tired, slept better and was just an all-around happier person.
Today, Modlinski is a nonsurgical orthopaedic physician with Norton Orthopaedic Specialists as well as the medical co-director of the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon and helps patients achieve their fitness goals every day. Modlinski also believes that everyone, even people who consider themselves couch potatoes, has more potential than they realize to get up and get moving. All you have to do is take that first step.
If exercise isn’t currently part of your schedule, Modlinski encourages changing that as we head into the new year. And for those who are setting fitness goals and making resolutions, the number one priority must always be to be healthy.
“The most important thing about this is getting healthy because exercise can play a wide variety of roles as far as treating a lot of different chronic diseases. It’s not just being more fit or running a specific time,” he said. “Chronic exercise has been known to reduce high blood pressure, high cholesterol and improve joint pain. There are so many medical benefits that I stress to patients… . I say, ‘Look, at the end of the day we’re doing this to be healthy, and then the secondary goals of time and distance can come later.’”
However, with any lifestyle change, setting specific, concrete goals is only natural. Modlinski said those interested in turning over a new leaf in exercise must first assess themselves to be sure they are setting goals that are realistic. To do so, you need to figure out where you are at the start: What are you able to do without fatigue, shortness of breath or pain? It’s a subjective situation to be sure, but fitness devices such as Fitbits and Garmins can help you figure out when you may be pushing yourself too hard, as Modlinski says in training, you should challenge yourself at a level that’s just beyond where you are now.
When the average person hears about a runner in the news or online, it’s usually due to some sort of extraordinary triumph. If you’re just starting out, comparing yourself to a well-seasoned athlete is not an advisable way to approach your journey, Modlinski cautioned. “Some people have this idea that they get from a family member or see in a magazine that, ‘Gosh, this lady ran a full marathon in four months – I can do that!’ And that’s great for that person and you can do a full marathon, too, but let’s have a more realistic timeframe. Considering where you’re starting from, maybe that’s going to take us a year or nine months to accomplish. So, we always want to come up with a realistic compromise on their goals.”
As with most endeavors, the beginning is always the most difficult. But once you’ve decided that becoming a runner is something you want to do, putting in those first three weeks will have unparalleled payoff in the end. “The first three or four weeks are very difficult with any new routine, whether it’s exercise or quitting smoking,” Modlinski said. “A lot of studies have shown that three weeks seems to be a magical time for some strange reason to recondition and reprogram the brain. So, I tell patients, ‘Look, you may not like this for the first three weeks. You may hate life. You may be a bear to your family. But if you can get past those first three weeks, you’ll start to feel a lot better. You may not see a huge weight change or anything, but you’ll feel more energy and you will feel better.’ And once we get there, then it’s not hard to convince that person to stick with it.”
As you set out in your training, Modlinski also advises taking it at a pace that doesn’t rock your current routine too severely. This will help prevent burn out and is also the best method to get your body used to your new regimen. “I stress to patients that you will get stronger and better by pushing the body and allowing it time to adapt,” he said. “Taking a day off between training actually helps you get a little bit better. When you get farther along in your journey, maybe we can go up to four or five days a week. And we talk about not biting off too much as far as a timeframe. So many people set a goal by a certain date or a certain race. If they start in January for the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and they get off their schedule by a week or two, then they start to panic and start to press more, which can lead to more pain and injuries and less success with their goals. So, if it’s your first (race), I’d throw out the deadlines and timeframes.”
With all those factors in mind – focusing on being healthy, setting realistic goals and sticking to a reasonable pace of training – you’re ready to run. Just keep in mind that every individual is different, Modlinski said. What takes someone else three months may take you six, and what takes you four weeks could take someone else eight. Listen to your body and push yourself. As long as you keep your own health in focus, you are positioned for success. And once you achieve your goal, every late-night gym session or early morning run will suddenly seem worth it.
“It’s exhilarating,” Modlinski said of finally crossing the finish line. “No matter what your time is, the concept of starting toward a goal for 10 weeks or three months or six months and setting out from where you start to where you finish and then finishing that race and finishing it healthy and feeling good gives you a great sense of accomplishment and motivation because you can finish it and say, ‘I felt great, I felt amazing, it was such a thrill to do this and accomplish a goal I set out to do – now, what’s next?’”
“A lot of studies have shown that three weeks seems to be a magical time for some strange reason to recondition and reprogram the brain. So, I tell patients, ‘Look, you may not like this for the first three weeks. You may hate life. You may be a bear to your family. But if you can get past those first three weeks, you’ll start to feel a lot better.”
Dr. Ryan Modlinski, nonsurgical orthopaedic physician with Norton Orthopaedic Specialists
FIVE TRAINING TIPS with Stephanie Fish
NORTON SPORTS HEALTH SPORTS EVENT MARKETING COORDINATOR STEPHANIE FISH DESIGNED NORTON SPORTS HEALTH’S KENTUCKY DERBY FESTIVAL MARATHON AND MINIMARATHON TRAINING MANUAL AND IS AN AVID RUNNER HERSELF. HERE ARE HER TOP FIVE TIPS FOR GEARING UP FOR YOUR FIRST TIME RUNNING A RACE.
SET REALISTIC GOALS
If you’ve never done a race at all, maybe your first goal is a 5K and then maybe a 10K and then a half marathon and then a full. A lot of people who have never run a day in their life want to go for the long one right off the bat, and I can tell you it’s very, very hard to do that.
DON’T DO IT ALONE
Find a running buddy or running group. It’s really hard to achieve some of these goals by yourself. That helps people stay accountable and also train properly. Having people with you can also keep you motivated.
CREATE A TRAINING PLAN
A training plan will keep you on schedule with where you need to be and make sure you’re not moving too fast or too slow. With a schedule, you can also throw in some days of rest and cross-training, which helps prevent overtraining and/or injuries.
Nutrition is something that people tend to forget. In training for anything, 50 percent of it is physical and 50 percent is nutrition. You can’t go out and try to run five miles if you haven’t eaten anything or you’re not properly hydrated.
TAKE IT IN STEPS
The Triple Crown of Running is almost the perfect goal-oriented training program to get you to that half marathon. It starts with a 5K then a 10K then a 10-miler, and any person who ever comes up to me and says they want to do a half marathon, I immediately tell them that they should sign up for the Triple Crown as it gives you great racing experience and helps you build up to the half marathon.
Join Stephanie Jan. 11 at the Kentucky Derby Museum as Norton Sports Health kicks off its training program for the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon. The free event will take place at 6 p.m. and will be the inaugural event for the 14-week program wherein participants will be able to talk with professionals about nutrition, training tips, injury prevention and education. For more information, visit derbyfestivalmarathon.com.
ROCK OUT WHILE YOU RUN
with Ben Davis
Sure, Ben Davis is co-host of “The Ben Davis and Kelly K. Show” on 99.7 WDJX (and one of the funniest people we’ve ever met), but did you also know he’s a dedicated runner, too? If he’s not streaming one of Alpha Media’s radio stations (99.7 DJX, B96, G105.1, 102.3 Jack or Magic 101.3) or listening to a true crime podcast (or picking up dog poop) while he runs, Ben has these songs on repeat to keep him motivated.
EMINEM “LOSE YOURSELF”
The beat and the attitude is perfect!
N.W.A. “STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON”
Attitude is key with this one.
I like music that I can keep the pace to.
CAKE “THE DISTANCE”
VANESSA CARLTON “A THOUSAND MILES”
To keep things random and upbeat.
TAYLOR SWIFT “REPUTATION”
Yep, the whole album.
ZEDD/ALESSIA CARA “STAY”
POST MALONE “ROCKSTAR”
I just like this song right now.
BRUNO MARS “24K MAGIC”
Just a fun song.
GUNS N’ ROSES “WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE”
Just a gritty rock song that will pump anyone up.
*You can find a link to Ben’s playlist on the Extol Sports Facebook page.